Prep cooking. The concept of making large batches of meals ahead of time so you don’t have to worry about making healthy choices later, and it saves you a bunch of time throughout the week. Some people love it. Some hate it. Personally, I love it, as it makes my life so much easier. You can learn to love it too, I promise.
Here are some basic ideas to help you get started on your prep cooking journey. This is not supposed to be an exhaustive list, but a good jumping-off point that you can tweak based on your taste, time, and skill.
My first tip is to keep it simple. As you start prep cooking, the idea is for you to knock out as much cooking and planning in one go as possible. Sure, you could spend hours grilling marinated chicken breasts to perfection, but that kind of defeats the time saving purpose of prep cooking. Instead, you can oven bake 3-5 pounds at a time in 40-ish minutes, and do something else (like prep veggies!) while they cook. Once you get the basics down, it’ll be much easier to make healthy choices throughout the week, and you’ll only have to spend an hour or two once a week on cooking. Now that’s what I call a win-win.
Chicken- Chicken is awesome. you can make it a bazillion different ways, It’s cheap, and, if you get the right kind, it’s a very lean source of protein. The easiest way I have found to cook it is to oven bake it for 40-45 minutes at 400. First, pound the chicken breasts so they are all equally thick. Next, cut them into strips of equal size . Season as desired (salt, pepper, garlic, whatever) and put them in the oven for 25 minutes. Pull out the chicken, flip the strips, season the other side if you need too, and put them back in for 15-20 more minutes. Boom. meat for days! I recommend letting the chicken cool for about 30 minutes, then putting it uncovered in the fridge for an hour or two. After that, I portion out what I need this week and freeze the rest. If you do it right, you can cook a whole months worth of chicken in less than an hour!
Veggies- First thing to do is find some veggies that you actually enjoy. Something besides potatoes. Now, potatoes (especially sweet potatoes) are good for you, but they are high in carbs for vegetables. I would recommend mixing small amounts of potatoes in with whatever other veggies you chose. Personally, I love broccoli. And beets. A simple way to cook them is boiling or steaming, and you can even do them at the same time with a little trick I learned. First, dice your beets and/or other root vegetables. Put them in a pot and add enough water to cover them completely. Bring that to a boil for about 3-5 minutes. Then add your chopped broccoli to the mix (but don’t mix it. Just add the broccoli on top), lower the heat a bit, and cover the pot. Check it in about 12 minutes. If you did it right, the root vegetables will be cooked through in the water, and the broccoli, since it was just placed on top of the other veggies, will be perfectly steamed! You can cook a batch that will last you a week at a time this way!
Oatmeal – Yeah, oatmeal is already super quick and easy to make. But you can step up your breakfast (Or snack. Or dinner. Or whatever) game by making overnight oats. Simply put you oats in a container, like a mason jar, add enough water to cover the oats, and put it in the fridge. In a few hours, they’ll be ready to go! It’s perfect for prepping a few days worth of breakfast ahead of time. You can also add some fruit to the mix. Personally, I like to eat it cold on a hot day. I also usually add a scoop of Greek yogurt or protein powder to the oats when I’m ready to eat them. You can add them all in and let it sit overnight, but I find that it mixed better if you let the oats absorb the water first.
Eggs – Hard boiled eggs take less than 15 minutes, and you can do dozens at a time. This might be the most simple, and oldest, breakfast “hack” on the planet. But there are other ways to prepare eggs ahead of time as well. My favorite way is to oven bake them in muffin tins. They keep really well in the fridge for a few days, and you can even freeze them if you like. A simple recipe would be to whisk up your eggs, add a dash of salt, throw in some chopped veggies, like onions or peppers, pour the mixture into a greased muffin tin, and bake at 450 for about 10 minutes (your oven might be different, always check around the 10 minute mark). And that’s it! Golden-brown egg “muffins” ready to go. You can even get super creative and add meat and cheese the the mix to truly make it a great, and versatile, breakfast option.
As I said earlier, Prep cooking can seem like a pain at first, but once you get started, it is very easy and rewarding! Having healthy choices ready at all times is a great strategy for sticking do a diet plan. It’ll also free up a bunch of time throughout the week if you usually cook every night. I hope this list gives you a good idea of how to get started, but don’t limit yourself! Find foods you like, see if thee is a good way to prep a large amount (there will be) and get started!
Thanks, and DFQ!